Increased Education Spending Going to Administrators

For years, I have suspected that a lot of increased per pupil spending in public schools has gone to increasing numbers of administrators rather than teachers or facilities.  I just have to compare the administration numbers at my kids private school and those at the local public school and the contrast is just amazing.

Mark Perry demonstrates a similar effect in state-run college education:

This decade has been good for associate vice chancellors at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their numbers have nearly doubled, from 10 to 19, and the money paid to them has more than tripled, to a total of nearly $4 million a year. The university now admits that some of these people were in jobs that were not vital. They represent the rapid management growth in the 16-campus UNC system that has added tens of millions of dollars to annual payrolls.

Now, with a tough economy and sinking tax revenues, UNC officials and state lawmakers say these jobs need cutting first.

Systemwide over the past five years, the administrative ranks have grown by 28%, from 1,269 administrative jobs to 1,623 last year, UNC-system data show. That's faster than the growth of faculty and other teaching positions -- 24% -- and faster than student enrollment at 14%. The number of people with provost or chancellor in their titles alone has increased by 34% the past five years, from 312 in 2004 to 418 last year. The cost was $61.1 million, up $25 million from five years before.

Perry also show similar numbers in his own university in Michigan.

Kudos to the UNC system for at least considering cuts in these bloated administrator positions.  You never see public grade schools systems ever suggest such cuts - when forced to economize, they always suggest cutting something inflammatory like textbooks for high school or crayons for kindergarteners.  One difference is that UNC faces competition from a myriad of other public and private colleges, while most local grade school districts do not.

I would still like to find similar staffing numbers for our local public school district, breaking out teachers from principals, assistant principals, and administrators, but they seem loath to share such detail.


  1. Evil Red Scandi:

    In a rare instance of blog-pimping (I'm lucky to get out one post a month, I have no idea how Coyote does it), I recently tried to figure out how much schools should cost vs. how much we actually spend. If anyone else knows where all the money goes, I'd love to know. It's not like we get breakdowns of spending or anything like that.

  2. Dr. T:

    Getting accurate employee data from public schools is almost impossible because of how they game the system. In my school district, former teachers with good connections can become full-time "curriculum coordinators" (despite having a state-mandated standard curriculum). These curriculum coordinators are still listed as teaching staff. So are assistant or vice principles who were promoted from teaching positions. Some full-time administrative positions (such as psychologists) are contracted out and don't show up on the employee rosters. Unless you get a full list of employees and contract workers with titles, you cannot verify the teachers:administrators or teachers:all other employees ratios.

    For Evil Red: See if some well-run but less expensive private schools in your area publish their budgets. That might be a good comparison for public schools.

  3. Jess:

    While it's difficult to pin down $ figures, the employment #s are pretty open. As a specific example, my kid's HS in Fairfax County, VA with ~ 2,100 students numbers:

    Cost per student (09/10) $13,517
    Annual/contract employees: 223
    Non teaching positions included in A/C: 69

    Services staff "folded into" county budget, estimated building staff (Janitorial, Cafeteria, etc.): 39

    I'll admit that I went to school "back in the day", but a quick look at the "Staff" page of my HS yearbook (2000 students)shows a total - including cafeteria & maintenance, teachers, and admin under 130 (w/90 FT teachers!!!)

    His school does have staffers mine never had, such as "Hispanic Parent Liason", "Korean Parent Liason", "Head of 9th Grade Counseling", "Head of 10th Grade Counseling", ... you get the idea (and yes, they are FT positions w/full benefits).

    And people wonder why I moved my business out of Fairfax City & County...